Police in Mzimba were yesterday involved in running battles with demonstrators demanding the resignation of Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah for allegedly mishandling the May 21 Tripartite Elections.
The demonstration started peacefully as thousands of people, including the country’s former vice-president Khumbo Kachali, marched from Mnjili Community Day Secondary School to M’mbelwa District Council offices where they presented their petition at 10 am.
However, tension mounted when police blocked roads leading to Mzimba Market and fired tear gas to disperse the protestors after they had presented the petition.
Ironically, police were seen firing tear gas even towards residential areas around Mzimba Boma. This caused more turmoil as women and children were seen fleeing their homes for safety.
In retaliation, the protesters, armed with bricks and woods, started firing back at the police. They went on the rampage, breaking shop windows at Mzimba Boma, burning tyres, blocking roads and damaging Northern Region Water Board pipes.
In an interview, Mzimba Civil Society Network leader Teckson Amadu condemned the conduct by police.
“We blame the police for firing tear gas at protesters who were peacefully returning to their homes. This is unprofessional,” he said.
Addressing the protesters at the district commissioner’s (DC) office, Kachali said: “We will continue demonstrating until Jane Ansah resigns.”
M’mbelwa District Council director of administration Thomas Mwafongo, who received the petition on behalf of the DC, promised to deliver the petition to relevant authorities.